… “When I was nineteen years old, I wound up being arrested by the U.S. Federal Government for my involvement with drugs. I was put in a county jail in Florida, where I spent three months. The first day behind bars I spoke with a seventeen year-old black man who could not read, write, or communicate with any kind of sophistication. He had just been to trial because he was accused of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison, and it was clear to me in speaking with him, that whether or not he actually had committed the murder, he did not receive a fair trial. He lacked education and money, and the judicial system in the United States is geared towards putting poor people in prison while people who can afford to hire a good lawyer receive relatively short prison time. After speaking with this young man, I vowed to do something about this.
“In 1996, through a series of “coincidences,” I was invited to go into a Federal Prison and facilitate a training called ‘The Event.’ I had trained to lead ‘The Event’ with a psychologist who had been in prison for sixteen years earlier in his life.
“The work I’ve done with prisoners was all and more than I intuited thirty years earlier in that English class. I find the men and women who are incarcerated to be largely free of the fantasies and illusions that conventional life offers. As it is said in some spiritual traditions, these people have ‘hit bottom.’ I have found that it is only when a human being hits bottom, that they have the possibility to embrace lasting transformation. My experience of working in prisons has been enormously positive for my own practice. I do not view people who live behind bars as ‘bad people,’ but rather as human beings, just like all of us. We all have life challenges that we do not necessarily know how to relate with in a positive way.”
Sunday, September 7th, 5.45 p.m. – 6.30 p.m.
“Bringing It All Home”
Some words from Purna Steinitz’ writings
“One of the most beautiful yet seemingly painful parts of the path has been called “the wound of love,” or “broken-heartedness” or “vulnerabilty”.
“The brain is designed to function in one of two ways. The first is to defend us from a hurt, disappointment or pain too great to bear. Our defenses keep us buffered from people’s insensitivity and the brutality of the secular world. The animal hides in its cave, pretending it is safe. This defensive mode is good for survival, but the cost is that we don’t grow.
“The other function of the brain is that of vulnerability. Our willingness to fully experience the suffering of life provides the alchemy that moves us from being defended to an acceptance of what is, here and now. The true human being ventures out with courage over and over to experience what life actually is, pleasure and pain, free of projection. We understand up front that this is not necessarily safe.
“I’m not talking about a psychological paradigm, the leftover sadness of our childhood, but rather stopping once and for all spending our energy trying not to be hurt. With our broken hearts on our sleeves, we are tender instead of being ruled by anger and fear.”
From a young age, Purna Steinitz stood up for children who were being picked on. He has always been a champion of the downtrodden, and a stand for the truth being told.
Purna spent fifteen years leading personal development programs with individuals and organizations. He is the founder of The Event training and the CAMP program, which have touched the lives of thousands of people. Moved by the horror and need of individuals who live in prison in the United States, Purna also founded the CHANGES program which is dedicated to sowing seeds of dignity and self-respect in this environment.
In 1998, Purna was empowered as a teacher in the line of Yogi Ramsuratkumar. He started the Trimurti community which is devoted to the transmission of a traditional spiritual path as taught by the Bauls of Bengal, India. He strongly believes in community, not in the sense that people have to live with one another, but rather are working closely together for the sake of transformation. This, he believes, is the true healing force available to us on the path in this time of great turmoil on the planet.
Upasritan. Nuts and Bolts Volume I, Hohm Press 2007